A Surfeit Of Lampreys?

Great Britain


I blame Henry I. First our rivers were filled with these prehistoric river monsters, and then they weren’t after he died from eating a surfeit of the buggers.

The lamprey is a really fugly snake-like creature that was around 200 million years before the dinosaurs. It’s the world’s oldest living vertebrate, and was once a pretty common sight in the country’s rivers. But the “living fossil”, which has a grotesque circular disc of razor-sharp teeth instead of jaws and looks like something from ‘Star Wars’, was hit by pollution during the Industrial Revolution, and the construction of mill weirs that blocked their migration.

Now though, as rivers experience their lowest pollution levels for more than 100 years and work is carried out to remove the barriers to migration, the Environment Agency says that they’re back in rivers like the Ouse, Trent, and Derwent. The question is; why do we want them?

It turns out they’re important for processing nutrients in rivers and providing a food source for other fish and birds such as herons. But the lamprey has long been regarded as a luxury food, eaten by the Romans, the Vikings and our kings and queens. Queen Elizabeth was sent a lamprey pie from Gloucester for the diamond jubilee in 2012 (although the fish was apparently imported from an American lake).

Now that it’s back, expect it to reappear on some hoity-toity Kensington restaurant menu next to the larks’ tongues. Bloody lampreys, coming over ‘ere, giving our children nightmares and creeping back into our national diet, it’s a disgrace etc.

9 comments on “A Surfeit Of Lampreys?”

  1. Jo W says:

    Well Chris,you’re certainly ringing the changes with the subjects of your blogs! Just what I needed- a photo of that lamprey to look at while enjoying my early morning builders and biccies! I’ll be interested to see how many comments there’ll be, until the topic is sucked dry!

  2. Wayne Mook says:

    Well I thought we had enough parasites for the rich in the shape of bankers and their bonuses, well at least they can now spend there hard earned lolly on. A fine parasite pie.

    Jo, eel run an run, sorry.


  3. Jo W says:

    Wayne— oooooh! Very punny!

  4. Brooke Lynne says:

    From America–we thought we were being nice–giving you a bit of your own back. We could have returned The Donald.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    A lamp unto my feet – at least now I know what they look like. Just reading a book in which an American girl helps her mother peel an eel of its skin. Do lampreys peel that way? Peel an eel – love the sound of that.

  6. Vivienne says:

    Puts you off swimming in rivers, though, doesn’t it?

  7. chris hughes says:

    Yuk! You’ve brought back the nightmare day of fishing with husband and small children – sounds like an idyllic, summery, Swallows and Amazons day out – until himself caught an eel which swallowed the hook and we had to ask the help of a couple of young lads to get it out, which they did by turning the eel inside out…happy days!

  8. Wayne Mook says:

    Nice Chris, was it then eelongated, I must stay away from this thread,


  9. Alan says:

    That lamprey is really quite vile, Chris!

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